Family Tributes - We Will Remember Them
Tributes from the families of the airmen lost in the B17 Crash
Daughter Chris Dahmen and granddaughter and grandson Carol and Curtis Dahmen, of 2nd Lt Charles Crooks: "Lives can change in a split second, sometimes many lives. December 15th, 1944 was one of those moments in history that we wish we could change. 2nd Lt Charles Crooks was a son, husband, father, and hero in the eyes of so many. Like many other young men of that time he was simply defending his country and protecting the future of his family and the family of others, but did so at the ultimate price. Three generations of the family he never knew have now made the visit to Greenham Common and his final resting place to honour him and pay their respects. Although he and his crew were lost that tragic day so long ago, his memory and legacy live on today in the hearts of so many."
Mary Mockus Shipler, Daughter of 2nd Lt John P Mockus:
"We grew up knowing that our Father died in the war in a plane crash, but not until 1994, 50 years after his death, when we were able to visit his grave in Cambridge, did we realize we had lost our Father. His death wasn't something that was spoken about, and we had a wonderful step-father and a wonderful life, unlike so many other war orphans. The emotions we felt when we walked up to his white cross that day at the cemetery are still so clear in my mind. I had never seen my brother cry uncontrollably, but he did that day. We didn't understand the grief we were feeling for a man we had never known. Upon our return from England we were driven to uncover the details of the crash and his time spent in the War. My time was consumed searching the internet and leaving postings at every WWII website. Even though sharing our stories always brought tears it also gave us all a sense of peace that we finally knew our Fathers.
Having this memorial will bring closure, pride and peace to the children that were left without Fathers that day. I only wish we could find more of the families.
I should add that the appreciation we have received from so many British people is overwhelming to us. To know that they understand and still remember the sacrifice made by so many Americans is so comforting to the families left behind."
Debra Henderson, Niece of S/Sgt Wayne F Laubert:
What began as my brother Mike's interest in knowing about his Uncle who died in WWII, became an eight-year research journey about our Uncle Wayne, then became so much more. We did learn about his time/place in the war - and the tragic collision.
But it also allowed my mom, my Aunt Gerry, and their siblings to finally open up, to share with the next generations how his death impacted and changed their family's lives so much, and finally to openly grieve.
But even more - it taught the next two generations how important it is to remember and honor in some way those who sacrificed all of their tomorrows so that we can live today in freedom.
If this memorial causes even one person to stop and reflect on our Uncle and his crew's memory, and sacrifice in serving, and in doing so, honor them, then our research journey will be complete.
With humble heartfelt appreciation from over 50 Laubert family members, words can not express the comfort and peace that will come from knowing this memorial is a reality.
My Aunt Gerry's simple words she once said during our journey: 'I only hope that my brother's sacrifice will always be remembered.'"